I’d never made brioche dough before, and around midnight yesterday evening (very last minute as I’ve been ill) my chartreuse KitchenAid mixer was spasmodically jerking around on my kitchen counter. I tried to talk to it, rest a hand on it’s fevered head to calm it down as it beat the thick dough for almost half an hour total. Wondering about the racket, Patrick walked into the kitchen and proceeded to laugh (or should I say cackle?) at it’s pitiful girations and the disconcerted look on my face. Paranoid that I hadn’t added enough flour because instead of using measuring cups I used my digital scale, I ended up adding about 1/3 cup more. It seemed to be the right thing to do. I really hate cups and spoons and all their imprecision, most especially when baking. But it came together, the dough making a satisfying slapping noise against the sides. It’s a very sticky dough, don’t let that worry you. I say that, because at first it worried me. It finished its first rise around 1 AM after which I put it down for the night for it’s second rise in the refrigerator.
I fastidiously rolled the dough out, measuring tape lines traced out in the dusting of flour on my counter. I folded it matter of factly into thirds. Then I stared at it, unsure of how I was supposed to roll it out again. I didn’t know if I was supposed to roll back into the 11×13″ rectangle or if I was supposed to just…I don’t know.. sort of roll it out a bit. So I just sort of rolled it out a bit and ended up folding it into a thick square packet. This done with both halves of dough, I then put them in the fridge. Then I saw the sticks of butter on my counter. I’d forgotten to put the dubious second helping of butter in. So, I proceeded to unfold my dough, butter it up, roll it back out a bit thinner this time, and fold it up again. It seemed to be effective trouble shooting, but I wasn’t sure.
After the chill, I filled them. It didn’t seem to be enough filling to me, but I fought my improvisational nature and followed the recipe. Or tried to. I mistakenly left the top quarter of the dough completely bare, not even brushing it with the egg. Which means when rolled they were a bit loose at the seam. It didn’t ultimately prove to be a problem. C’est la vie. Finally nestled in their luxuriant bed of butter and brown sugar, I left them to rise one last time, which they did, puffing happily. I don’t have a 9″ cake pan for reasons unknown to me. I’m pretty sure I had a 9″ cake pan at some point in my personal history, pretty sure I had quite a few actually. But over the course of many moves and partings of ways with significant others, many objects have fallen through the cracks. For instance, I have an immersion blender and food mill in Boston.
I made do with an 8″ cake pan, cutting six 1 1/2″ rolls instead of seven. After 35 minutes they were puffed in a golden dome, almost brimming over. It was a very satisfying sight to behold after all the doubts and second guessing that comes with cooking something for the first time. Naturally those doubts wouldn’t be fully allayed until the first bite, but after that first bite the doubts dissipated, replaced instead by gratuitous self-congratulation. They were the perfect texture, somewhere between roll and pastry, soft and warm. The topping was caramelized, the cinnamon filling nutty and sweet.
I took some round to my parents, as I’m not inclined to leave such rich food sitting around our house. I’d have to buy new clothes. And I don’t have the budget for that. So you see, Mom & Dad, I had to pawn those calories off on you. Besides, I was ill on Mother’s Day, so this is my belated gift of baked goods.
I’m so satisfied with this brioche dough I declare it my standard brioche, which I hope to use for many more confections both sweet and savory to come.
Again, the recipe can be found at the hosts’ websites linked above, and better yet, after you peruse their sites, buy the book, which is undoubtedly an essential vertebrae in the backbone of any well-rounded baking library.